Embrace the Pale

I am hopelessly pale.

Being well over half Irish, I should have accepted this long ago as my lot in life. I do not “tan”. After three months of summertime, I can look in the mirror and say “hey, look at those tan lines!”, and feel great until i walk outside, look at the people around me, and realize that I am still completely, utterly pale. Just ever so slightly less-so. 

“The pale”, as I call it, has plagued me ever since tan became cool – incidentally, we have Coco Chanel to thank for that. I spent a fair bit of my high school years trying every self tanner on the market. If it was new and improved, I bought it. Some worked, some didn’t. There are plenty that I thought worked, but looking back now at pictures of myself I can clearly see that I was mistaken. Hilariously bad? Most definitely. But I always felt so great when I found one that worked and someone would look at me and say “wow, you look tan”. Four words. I was thrilled. 

Time went on. Self tanners evolved. I kept buying them. I went back and forth between embracing the pale and trying desperately to hide it. Pale wasn’t cool. “Everyone looks better with a tan”. I even tried out a tanning bed or two. But, keeping the risks in mind, I honestly couldn’t bring myself to ever seriously consider maintaining that activity. Ironically, we’re the only society in the world that thinks being tan is better than being pale. In most places, pale is something to strive for, and women will go to crazy lengths to lighten their skin. 

This blog post is, in a sense, declaring my intention to permanently embrace the pale. It’s been a few months now, and I have to say that I’m growing rather fond of it. I think it helps that more and more models and actresses are ditching the idea of tanning – suddenly fake baking is associated with Snookie and Lindsay Lohan. It’s easier to feel good about my skin when Zooey Deschanel (a fellow lover of black tights) is strutting her stuff on the red carpet. It’s also easier, quite frankly, being away from where I went to school. Half the girls looked exactly alike (tan, long dark hair, leggings, northface), and while I was happy to stand apart from the crowd with my pale skin, short hair, and insistance that leggings are not pants, it could still be occasionally disconcerting. 

So, the bottom line is this: I embrace the pale. I embrace the fact that spending time in the sun will not turn me into a bronze goddess. I embrace my Irish-ness. I embrace the way my vintage wardrobe works with my skin. And, quite happily, I embrace the fact that I will look better at age 40 than most frequent tanners will look at age 30. 


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